Cuba Photo Tour: Heart and Soul of Cuba

Tour Intro

Long a mystery to many Americans, and off limits for many decades, Cuba is a country that shares its charisma on many levels – the beat of the music, the welcoming Cuban people, eclectic architecture, cobbled streets, rugged mountains, the beautiful and lush countryside, the taste of rum and lots more! This is a licensed 'People-to-People' program, immersing you in the Heart and Soul of Cuba and is designed as a cultural and historical tour that will provide dramatic photographic opportunities each day. Enjoy the hustle and bustle of Old Havana as well as the slower paced countryside of the Pinar del Río Province, and also spend two evenings in the Pearl of the South, Cienfuegos.

You will be introduced to the rich culture and strong-willed people of Havana, as well as the spectacular UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage site of the Valley of the Sugar Mills, and the colonial town of Trinidad on Cuba’s southern coast. The people of Cuba are friendly and open. You will find many wonderful faces to photograph in the cities and the countryside – some who earn a living in this way and others who are just as pleased to be photographed looking for nothing in return.

Explore Havana’s colonial architecture and historic areas while watching the antique vehicles pass you by. Our warm and incredibly knowledgeable local guide, formerly both a college professor and member of the Cuban Parliament, will lead daily educational discussions about the arts, traditional music, history and culture of the country. You will visit with local families of diverse neighborhoods, and the sugar and tobacco farmers of the countryside.

Karen and Joel have been working in the photographic field for over 35 years and are both accomplished professional photographers. Karen is a skilled and sensitive photographic artist and educator and during our tour will share ideas and knowledge to help you create great travel photographs, whether you are using a DSLR or an iPhone! Joel is an expert in the digital imaging world and has done photographic printing for some of the most notable names in fine art photography. He will share his knowledge of both the technical and creative aspects of the photographic medium.

In addition, Karen and Joel will offer visual presentations and discussions highlighting the development of personal vision and awareness, and show how light, color, composition, gesture and 'the moment' contribute to the success of a photograph. There will also be opportunities to have photo reviews of your images, so everyone can share and learn from each other, or private photo reviews can be arranged. Both Karen and Joel are passionate iPhoneographers and during your tour will offer optional creative iPhoneography instruction. Our goal is to make this tour enjoyable and fun for both serious and casual photographers!

From Karen: "I encourage each person to give themselves permission to make mistakes, permission to create. The more we learn to 'see' with our mind, heart and spirit, the more of an adventure life becomes."

Tour Highlights

• Photo Education with both Karen & Joel Schulman.
• Program cost includes TEN NIGHTS in Cuba, maximum 12 participants.
• Photographic subjects include musical sessions, environmental portraits of friendly Cubans, city and country landscapes, gardens, and of course the great American cars of the 1940s and 1950s, surrounded by modern & historic architecture.
• Photograph stunning landscapes of the tropical plains dotted with immense limestone mounds, or mogotes, as well as tobacco farms near the town of Viñales in the Pinar del Río Province.
• Spend two evenings in the charming colonial town of Trinidad on Cuba’s southern coast.
• Meet and interact with the Cuban people on the streets of the Pearl of the South - Cienfuegos, Havana’s distinct neighborhoods and in their homes in Trinidad.
• Explore the architecture of Old Havana, designated an UNESCO World Heritage site.
• Enjoy panoramic views of the Morro Cabaña harbor, & the skyline of Havana.

Tour Itinerary

March 6-7: Home-Santa Clara-Trinidad
Man On Step, Trinidad

Photo By: Jacque Steedle

Photo Location: Trinidad, Cuba

Depart today on your flight to Cuba. A flight schedule will be announced as the tour approaches, likely to have everyone connect in Florida to be on the same flight landing in Santa Clara. Everyone will then return from Havana, therefore flights will be issued multi-city. Once the group arrives in the Santa Clara Airport, you will collect your bags, go through customs and meet your local guide. After exchanging some funds, if time allows, you may have brief photo opportunities in Santa Clara. This is the Capital City of the Villa Clara Province, located in the center of Cuba. Che Guevara liberated the city in 1958 from the Batista regime.

Leaving Santa Clara you will continue on to Trinidad, founded in the early 16th century on the southern coast of the country. It was designated an UNESCO site in 1988, and it’s the perfect example of a traditional colonial town, with red tiled roofs and an array of pastel colored houses lining cobblestone streets. Walk with your leader or wander on your own capturing the simplicity of this quaint town and its villagers. For sunset one evening you will drive to Playa Ancon, which provides an opportunity to capture the beautiful, sandy beaches of Cuba lined with palm trees. Both evenings there will be opportunities to listen to some wonderful traditional music and a chance to dance away the night.

After breakfast, your guide will join you for a walking tour of the city streets, where you may have an opportunity to photograph artisans as they work or school children as they interact with one another and their teachers. Travel to the Valley of the Sugar Mills, photographing the beautiful landscape and a ruined 19th century sugar estate. The landscape speaks of the transitions this country has seen. Explore with your local guide as he educates you on the sugar plantations of yesterday. Overnight Iberostar or similar, Trinidad. (March 7 – B, L, D)
 

March 8-9: Cienfuegos
Sunset Cienfuegos

Photo By: Karen Schulman

Photo Location: Cuba

After sunrise photography in Trinidad, return to the hotel for breakfast. You may have an additional photography shoot with your leaders before driving west towards the Zapata Peninsula. There is a beautiful mile long nature trail at El Nicho waterfalls, located at the  Topes de Collantes National Park. Two natural pools will cool you off or you can explore the trail enjoying bird and landscape photography along the way. Continue on to Cienfuegos, your home for the next two evenings. There will be sunset and sunrise photography on the bay, weather cooperating of course.

The City of Cienfuegos is a very modern city by Cuba’s standards, offering architectural photography of the historic square, as well as a beautiful harbor, two of the reasons this city is now an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy photographing in the city’s main square, Parque José Martí, the Tomas Terry Theater, and the neo-classical cathedral. After lunch take a walk to view the bustling Paseo del Prado and one of Cuba’s longest waterfront walkways, the lively Malecon. Overnight Hotel La Unión, Cienfuegos.  (B, D; B, L)
 

March 10-11: Viñales – Pinar Del Río Province
Tobacco Men

Photo By: Karen Schulman

Photo Location: Cuba

After breakfast we will depart for the Pinar Del Río Province, home of many sugar and tobacco fields. It has an economy based on agriculture, mainly tobacco farming, and its soil is considered to be some of the richest in the world. Photograph rural family life amidst the tobacco fields and traditional buildings of this region. In the Viñales Valley, another UNESCO World Heritage site, we’ll see mountainous “mogotes”, made of hard limestone left over after millennia of erosion, as well as rural farmland vistas. An overlook offers commanding views of the landscape, which we will capture at sunset one evening. Karen & Joel will lead an early morning photography walk the next day in town before breakfast. We will then head down into the valley and walk the paths through fields of tobacco and sugar cane, meeting the farmers and photographing their homes, farms and families. Lunch will be at an organic farm overlooking the valley. Overnight Casa Particular: participants will stay in various local homes to experience the family hospitality and central location in town. Rooms have private baths and would be considered their version of a B&B. (B, D;B, L)                         

March 12-15: Havana
Havana, 1940's Auto

Photo By: Karen Schulman

Photo Location: Havana, Cuba

Enjoy a leisurely morning in Viñales with additional photography before departing for Havana. In 1982, Old Havana was designated an UNESCO World Heritage site. It is brimming with a variety of historical landmarks and interesting things to do. Walking the streets in this area is a favorite pastime and will surely result in an unforgettable experience with many varied photo opportunities. Your guide will orient you to the highlights of Old Havana on a walking tour. As you stroll the streets, you will be overwhelmed with sights to photograph, from the antique American cars, children playing in the streets or in abandoned lots, from the beautifully restored hotels to the paint peeling off dilapidated buildings. Havana’s architecture is the most beautiful in the various plazas, where locals and tourists congregate to share stories.  Plaza de Armas, Plaza de la Cathedral, Plaza Vieja, and Plaza de San Francisco, are a few that are within walking distance of our hotel. You will be able to return late at night while music fills the air, or early in the morning to photograph as the streets come to life again.

One morning, after photographing with your leaders, return to the hotel for breakfast, then meet your guide for a driving tour of some of the area’s highlights (time and weather permitting): La Torre (the tower) with a bird’s eye view of the harbor and city; Morro Cabaña (fortress) just across the harbor, which provides another perspective of the waves crashing on the lighthouse and fortress, along with the skyline of Havana; Fusterlandia, where a Cuban artist reclaimed his impoverished neighborhood as a dreamy folk art kingdom; Ernest Hemingway’s former home, Finca La Vigía, where we can view the remembrances of his 20 years in Cuba; and Cojimar, Hemingway’s beloved fishing village.

There will be free time in the late afternoons to walk the promenade down to the harbor, with incredible panoramic views and the historic malecón. The rooftop terrace of our hotel offers outstanding sunrise and sunset views of the city. Overnight Hotel Inglaterra (B; B, L; B, D)

March 16: Home
Women Baskets, Havana

Photo By: Jacque Steedle

Photo Location: Havana, Cuba

There will be a transfer to Havana airport for your trip home (exact time to be announced). Confirm with Strabo Tours, prior to booking domestic flights. Be sure to leave three hours between flights if you are making a connection after the Havana flight. This will all be worked out when we are closer to our trip date. (B)

Photo Leader

Karen & Joel Schulman
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Karen & Joel Schulman

Karen and Joel have been working in the photographic field for over 35 years and are both accomplished professional photographers. Karen is a skilled and sensitive photographic artist and educator and during our tour will share ideas and knowledge to help you create great travel photographs, whether you are using a DSLR or an iPhone! Joel is an expert in the digital imaging world and has done photographic printing for some of the most notable names in fine art photography. He will share his knowledge of both the technical and creative aspects of the photographic medium.

In addition, Karen and Joel will offer visual presentations and discussions highlighting the development of personal vision and awareness, and show how light, color, composition, gesture and 'the moment' contribute to the success of a photograph. There will also be opportunities to have photo reviews of your images, so everyone can learn and share from each other, or private photo reviews can be arranged. Both Karen and Joel are passionate iPhoneographers and during your tour will offer optional creative iPhoneography instruction. Our goal is to make this tour enjoyable and fun for both serious and casual photographers!

From Karen: "I encourage each person to give themselves permission to make mistakes, permission to create. The more we learn to 'see' with our mind, heart and spirit, the more of an adventure life becomes."

Many thanks to you both for helping us discover Cuba; it was such a rich and exotic experience! We will enjoy the memories and the photos for many years to come. 

Lana and Joe

Photo Leader

Karen Gordon Schulman
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Karen Gordon Schulman

Karen looks forward to sharing her love for each incredible country and people during her very special cultural and photographic journies. During the tours, Karen will offer group photography reviews, inspiration and education as well as individual guidance and instruction as needed.

Photographic artist, writer and educator, Karen Gordon Schulman is based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. She majored in education and psychology at Penn State, and did graduate work at Manhattanville College. In 1979, Karen followed her photographic passion, studying fine art and commercial photography at UCLA. She uses a camera to capture the essence of a place and in the lifelong process of self-discovery. From her hand-painted silver prints and Polaroid manipulations to digital multiple exposures and now, iPhoneography, “It’s not about the tool” is Karen’s philosophy. In addition to creating art with her own iPhone, Karen leads iPhoneography workshops throughout the year and offers guidance during photo tours to those who have an interest.

Since 1985, when Karen created Focus Adventures in Los Angeles, she has been offering small group photographic workshops and tours that emphasize using the camera for enrichment of creative spirit and development of personal vision. She has experience working with all ages, from 7 to 70 and beyond, and is dedicated to incorporating trip participants’ personal awareness with once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities. Karen has been working with Strabo Photo Tour Collection since 2000. www.focusadventures.com

"I encourage each person to give themselves permission to make mistakes, permission to create," Karen says. "The more we learn to “see” with our mind, heart, and spirit, life becomes more of an adventure. I welcome all skill levels and enjoy offering guidance to those with stronger left-or right-brain approaches to photography, to strengthen the other side."

“On a photo tour, I enjoy guiding participants to expand their creativity and/or technical skills, increase their confidence and have fun! Instruction can be as much or as little as they prefer. I look forward to seeing you on one of my tours!”

This was an excellent, stimulating experience. Karen is great, your local guide was patient, & knowledgeable. Very personable, I would gladly use him again.

J.Turner

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 9 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $300 if 5-8 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.

Single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.

Testimonials

Many thanks to you both for helping us discover Cuba; it was such a rich and exotic experience! We will enjoy the memories and the photos for many years to come. 

Lana and Joe

Strabo’s trip to Cuba will be one you will never forget. There are photo ops galore. While Cuba may be economically deprived, it is culturally rich.

Janice

The Cuba trip was absolutely amazing!!!  Joel and Karen did a great job of balancing our interests with those of the more serious, photographers in our group.  The entire trip was very relaxed, with just the right balance of structure, sightseeing, and socializing.  The entire group got along very well, and our guide, Leonel was a tremendous resource!  Our driver, Jose, could not have been better. 

T. Schwall

Additional Notes

Participants should know that Cuba is a special destination. Please understand that all elements of the itinerary are subject to change and that activities listed are examples of opportunities that may present themselves. Since the program is authorized by the U.S. Treasury Department, we have to abide by any changes to regulations that may take place. Please remain flexible as these circumstances are beyond our control. Be assured that all efforts will be made to provide a comparable alternative should an item on our itinerary need to be changed.

Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.

Airfare

Contact Strabo Tours if you would like rates on International Airfare. Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties. Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.

The land cost includes:
  • Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
  • Accommodations based on two people sharing a room, singles are assigned on a first come, first served basis.
  • Services of driver, English speaking cultural guide (if applicable) and photographic leader, during the tour.
  • Meals as listed in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
  • Park entrance fees, day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary.
  • Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The land cost does not include:

Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions below for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.

Exceptions:

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds

A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic tours) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.

If a passenger wishes to cancel they must send notification in writing to: Strabo International Tour, Co., P.O. Box 580, Dryden, NY 13053; fax 208-545-4119. At the time we receive your notification, the following per person charges apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $300 cancellation fee ($150 fee on domestic tours), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation.
  • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic tours) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.
  • 60 days or less before departure or anytime after departure: NO REFUND.

Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.

Insurance

Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it (see the section “Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds” in the trip brochure).

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.

Subject to Change

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

Photo Release

Strabo International Tour Company, Inc. reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Strabo International Tour Company, Inc.

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